Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

Children of a Good War by Jack Woodville London with Author Q&A

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I recently was contacted by Leslie at PR by the Book to see if I’d like to feature this very interesting sounding historical fiction title on my blog.

Here’s the overview:

About the Book:
Eleanor Hastings knew from experience that some bombs lie buried for decades before blowing up to do their damage. Now, 40 years after World War II, one such bomb explodes in the form of a cache of faded wartime letters, hidden in a cellar, that confirm the rumors that her husband, Frank, had heard all his life:  he really was just a bastard that his father brought back from the war in France.  The discovery sends Frank on a quest to find out who he really is – and to uncover his parents’ long-buried secrets.

Children of a Good War is the third installment of the trilogy, French Letters. The series has been praised for its meticulous research and ability to capture the language, attitudes, and moral culture of their 1940’s setting, written in prose that reviewers describe as beautiful and not pretentious, stories that are riveting and real.

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While I haven’t read all three stories, I am currently reading this one (thank you for my e-copy!) and it stands alone as a title as well. I love anything to do with WWII and this has a bit of a mystery tied in.

I had the opportunity to have a few questions answered by Mr. London:

BBNB: How does a new story idea come to you? Is it an event that sparks the plot or a character speaking to you?

Characters are wonderful devices.  You can create them, then drop them into nearly any period or event and they will act as such characters would act at any time in history, whether it is ancient Greece, Tudor England, baby boomers in the 1980s, or Trump America.

BBNB: Is there a message/theme in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I hope that the notion comes through that finding out who we are is something each of us must find out for himself or herself; while we may or may not know who our parents are, we almost never know who they were.

BBNB: What was your greatest challenge in writing this book?

When drawing complex characters with richly detailed individual lives, it takes a great deal of focus to keep their individual story lines arranged so that they become a part of the real story.  There are clues buried in most of the characters’ roles that readers often breeze through as minor details of daily life, then realize some time downstream that they are important pieces of the story.

BBNB: What’s the best writing advice you have ever received?

Don’t learn to write a book. Learn to write a sentence. Then learn to write a paragraph.

BBNB: How do your spouse/significant other/friends/family feel about your writing career?

She encourages it and realizes just how hard it is to build.

 

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Jack Woodville London is a writer, historian and “Author of the Year” (Military Writers Society of America) who studied the craft of fiction at the Academy of Fiction, St. Céré, France and Oxford University.  His novels are praised for their meticulous historical research and ability to capture the language, attitudes, and moral culture of their setting in prose described by reviewers as ‘beautiful, but not pretentious.’ Jack lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, Alice, and Junebug the writing cat.

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The Prisoner in the Castle by Susan Elia MacNeal

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Then next Maggie Hope story is here! I love this series, which is WWII mystery series centering on a young and daring spy, Maggie Hope. I used to think of them as cozies, but they really aren’t. They are more of a historical mystery. I learn so much about women’s roles in WWII while reading them!

This one reminded me a bit of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. Everyone is dying, one by one, and Maggie must find the killer.

Here’s the description from Net Galley – thanks for my review e-copy! Happy Pub Day!

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Eagle & Crane by Suzanne Rindell

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I had never read a title by Suzanne Rindell, but I chose this book from Net Galley since I love WWII stories. The novel centers on three main characters: Louis, one of the many children of a poor farmer who carries a grudge against the Japanese family next door; Harry, the son of the Japanese farmers; and Ava, a young girl who is part of an itinerant circus group. When their paths cross, the boys sign on to be part of an air circus, doing stunts in the sky. However, as WWII reaches the US, Harry’s family is sent to an internment camp and forever changed, while Louis must struggle with his family’s long-held feud, and Ava must decide where her love lies.

I really enjoyed this story and particularly liked the characters. It’s always fun to read about California, where I grew up, and in one scene they visit the Napa Valley (yeah!). I would love to see this novel made into a movie. I bet it would have beautiful cinematography!

This may be my first Suzanne Rindell novel, but it won’t be my last. Thank you for my review e-copy!

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The Sound of Freedom by Kathy Kacer

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This was a wonderful young readers’ story about a family escaping Europe during WWII through an orchestra that was created to save Jewish musicians in the Holocaust. Based on true events, I’d recommend it for grades 5 and up.

Thank you for my e-copy!

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A Note From the Publisher

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THE TUSCAN CHILD by Rhys Bowen

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If you read me, you know I love Rhys Bowen’s mystery series (Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness, to name two of them). Every now and then she steps out and writes a stand alone (e.g. In Farleigh Field). THE TUSCAN CHILD is just that – a stand alone novel that tells the story of a WWII lost love, a young woman looking for part of her past, and the beautiful Tuscan countryside that is the setting for it all.

Here’s the scoop:

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A Note From the Publisher

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I really enjoyed this one (no surprise), and I think readers who enjoy mystery and family relationships and WWII will connect with this novel.
I received this e-copy via Ms. Bowen’s publicist and Net Galley – thank you!!
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Christmas on the Coast by Rebecca Boxall

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This was one of my many holiday reading picks from Net Galley this year. I really enjoyed this story that jumped between current day and WWII, as a woman reads her great-aunt diary.

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THE TRICK by Emanuel Bergmann

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I read this novel at the end of summer and it was a treat. This was a at times humorous at times touching story of a young boy who wants to find a (basically) old, washed up magician, because he wants him to teach him how to keep two people (his parents) in love. It is sweet yet funny (the magician is rather cranky and is happy to take advantage of people), yet there is a twist to the story, too.

Moving between two time periods, the writing flows easily, and I read it in two days. I didn’t want to stop reading! They liken it to All the Light… and The Nightingale. Well – no. I’ve read both and they are not like this novel at all, except that they both do include WWII and All the Light has the young girl in it. This novel is much lighter with much more humor (though there are certainly serious moments, esp. in the section on WWII), and has a true feel good ending.

Thank you to the publisher and Net Galley for my e-copy!

Here’s the overview:

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BENEATH A SCARLET SKY by Mark Sullivan

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A Note From the Publisher

So – now I think: “this reminds me of a Mark Sullivan novel!”
I think this novel would appeal to many, and I particularly liked the afterword where Sullivan follows up on Pino and the other characters in how they lived the rest of their lives.
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THE PARIS SPY by Susan Elia MacNeal

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If you know me, you know I LOVE the Maggie Hope books! I always thought of them as cozy mysteries, but really that does not do them justice. I always learn something from reading them and they are serious, but not gory. They remind me of something I’d watch on PBS or the BBC — thoughtful and historically accurate, but entertaining. This latest is no exception. The war (WWII) is progressing, and Maggie is still hard at work for the Allies. Planning for the D-Day Invasion is the storyline behind this novel, and Maggie is trying to get top secret information through to those who need it. As always Susan Elia MacNeal has done her research and presents loads of historically accurate details to make her story come alive. I do love the strong character of Maggie, and I never get tired of reading these books!
Thank you for my review e-copy!
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THE ALICE NETWORK by Kate Quinn

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I had heard some chatter about this novel when it first came out earlier this summer, so I was excited to score a copy through Edelweiss. This was a compelling story about female Resistance members and spies in both WWI and WWII (which you rarely get in a novel!).

Here’s the overview via Amazon:

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, code name Alice, the “queen of spies,” who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. That is until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth . . . no matter where it leads.

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Oh my goodness — how I loved these characters, Charlie and Eve! Such strong women who could truly fight for a cause. I love it when the main characters are just so perfectly imperfect. You love them because they seem so real.

This was a solid story — at times sad, at times I laughed.

Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction!

Thank you for my review copy!!

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